HACCP

Introduction

More and more organisations involved with the food industry are now looking at HACCP certification. In many European countries the application of HACCP practices are required by Law although the certification to HACCP is not yet a legal requirement. This overview takes a brief look at the reasons why HACCP certification may be beneficial to your company. It also includes details about where to obtain further information. 

WHAT IS HACCP?

HACCP is a set of principles associated with the abbreviation of ‘Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point’. It was first created in USA and it provides a systematic approach for the management of food safety. It was created with the goal of eliminating incidents of: food poisoning, illness, consumption of unsafe food or drinks, or the encounter of unwanted substances or foreign bodies. The system of HACCP allows for the recognition, control and prevention of hazards which could occur in a production process or in the assembly of food products. A hazard may be described as everything which as a consequence of its existence can cause a health problem to the consumer. 

THE BENEFITS OF IMPLEMENTING HACCP

The benefits that are expected from implementing and be certified to HACCP are the following: Provides confidence of the production of safe food products. Being able to take advantage of the HACCP system in the companies’ contacts with public health authorities and similar bodies with a goal of proving in a documented manner their high levels of care for the safety of product and its hygienic production. The possession of a certified system, verifying the compliance with current legislation and ensuring its’ conformance to export requirements to the European Community. Improving its chances of being able to sell its products to hypermarket chains. Improving the image of the company in the eyes of all stakeholders and customers. 

HOW DO YOU START TO IMPLEMENT HACCP? WHAT IS INVOLVED?

Implementation of the HACCP system should commence with the creation of a HACCP team. The team should be interdisciplinary in nature. The roll of the team is to define correctly the scope of the system as well as the hazards for each product and to design a reliable system for prevention of such hazards. More particularly: HA is HACCP stands for ‘hazard analysis. This means: the identification of all possible hazards (biological and microbiological, physical and chemical) that could occur in the food preparation process. finding out where the hazard has come from taking appropriate steps to eliminate or reduce to an acceptable level the hazard (usually these are all those good hygiene practices mentioned earlier) the judgment if the hazard is very likely or less likely to arise in reality CCP stands for ‘critical control point’. This means: identifying the key stages in the process of food manufacture at which if the process at this stage is not carried out correctly it will be impossible at a later stage to identify the error or indeed to correct it. the setting of limits at each CCP so that we know that if we exceed such a limit, the product is in fact at risk and probably unsafe. creating instructions at each CCP to monitor what ‘actually’ is going on defining who is responsible for taking corrective actions if a control limit is exceeded and what must be done to correct the condition. checking routinely that the system is working properly keeping records as proof that the system is under control For HAACP to work properly it requires that all good practices such as personal hygiene, building maintenance, rodent control, management commitment, machine and equipment maintenance are in place and operational. These latter items have been given high exposure by Government Agencies. Remember HACCP is based on ‘judging the risk’ of a hazard occurring. Good hygiene practices are the foundation for HACCP but they ARE NOT replace by HACCP. You will need to document your HACCP system and procedures and to ensure that these procedures are implemented. If you have ISO 9001 systems in place, many of the requirements of HACCP will already be covered, or can be easily incorporated into them. Once developed, internal audits are needed to ensure the system carries on working. 

WHY SEEK CERTIFICATION TO HACCP?

Once you have an HACCP system in place, you may choose to have it externally audited. Following a successful audit by well established and reputable certification body, you will be issued with a certificate of registration to HACCP. This demonstrates the extra assurance of an independent third party that your organisation is committed to the production of safe food products and to the management of food safety. It also gives a competitive edge to the company’s marketing and enhances its image in the eyes of customers, employees and shareholders. 

ASSESSMENT TO HACCP

Having chosen a third party certification body for your assessment, it will review your documentation and carry out an initial audit of your site (often called ‘stage 1’). This will look at the company’s evaluation of hazards and CCP and the controls that are designed and implemented. This stage is followed at a later date by a full audit (stage 2) to ensure that records and working practices demonstrate that the company is following its procedures. After a successful audit and the issue of a certificate, there will then be surveillance visits (usually once or twice a year) to ensure that the system continues to work. 

WHY CHOOSE ISOQAR FOR YOUR ASSESSMENT?

ISOQAR is an accredited certification body by UKAS for quality and environmental management systems. Within the scope of accreditation for quality management systems, ISOQAR has the scope of the food sector. So the HACCP certification services have the extra assurance of a QMS accredited certification body for the food sector. ISOQAR has an enviable record for customer satisfaction with its certification services. Our audits focus on practical issues, rather than written documentation. Customers are given support and guidance between the two stages of the audit. ISOQAR’s annual registration fees are amongst the lowest in the industry. In addition, we will provide you with a fixed quotation, free from any additional expenses or disguised costs. ISOQAR only employs auditors that possess a friendly and down-to-earth style to audits. This approachable image has led to ISOQAR’s continual growth through referrals from contented clients and management consultants. Our auditors are also carefully allocated by their experience in the particular food industry they are assessing. This results in a practical, meaningful audit, carried out in an air of mutual understanding. 

WHAT IS THE COST OF ASSESSMENT TO HACCP?

ISOQAR has produced a guidance price list for organisations seeking registration to HACCP. However, there are many variables, such as an organisation’s type and size, the food production itself, the possible hazards and the CCPs. Consequently, we ask you to complete a short questionnaire to help us learn about your organisation. From this, we can provide you with a fixed, written quotation of the fees involved. Organisations that are ISO 9001 registered with ISOQAR may benefit from reduced annual registration fees for HACCP certification. This is because there are some common elements to the auditing process. 

JOINT HACCP AND ISO 9001 SYSTEMS

There are several common elements between ISO 9001 and HACCP, such as records, corrective action and the requirement for trained personnel. These can be combined into a single, joint system. Assessment of joint systems is available and may be the most suitable and cost effective approach for some companies. 

WHERE TO OBTAIN FURTHER INFORMATION OR HELP

The HACCP system is not an international standard as yet. Therefore different countries have documented their own HACCP system under different names. For example in Hellas the HACCP is published by ELOT (Hellenic Organisation for Standards) under the name ELOT 1416. Most countries however have as basis the ‘Codex Alimentarius’ and the Danish Standard which is the basic standard for HACCP. Some bibliography that may be used is : Codex Alimentarius, (1997), The Codex Alimentarius Commission & the FAO. WHO Food Safety Standard program, Rome, June, 1997; Mortimore S. & Wallace C., HACCP: A practical approach, Chapman and Hall, London, Glasgow, 1995; ‘Guidebook for the preparation of HACCP plans’ USDA, Washington DC 1997 April; Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, (1998), Food Quality & Safety Systems: A training manual on food hygiene & the HACCP System, Rome, Italy; The International Standards Organisation’s (ISO) is now working towards creating and publishing an International Standard for HACCP. This will be published under the name ISO 22000 later on this year or early next year. Some information may be viewed on ISO own website at www.iso.ch. HACCP awareness training courses are readily available, as are courses about how to put together your own HACCP System.